The Promise of Robotic-Assisted Surgery

For decades, the art and science of surgery has advanced from large incisions with big scars to smaller incisions, then tinier incisions using instruments the surgeon controls. Now with the introduction and use of robotic-assisted surgery, McLeod Senior Vice President Michael Rose, MD, says the advancements hold even more benefits for the patients.

Here is a summary of Dr. Rose’s interview:

When we talk about robotic-assisted surgery, we’re describing a team of 6 to 8 people who surround the patient. The patient is at the center. Then we incorporate some very advanced technology, which gives the surgeon (who is sitting off at the side at a console) and their team the ability to see inside the body in three dimensions in a highly magnified way and, in essence, virtually put the surgeon’s hands deep inside the patient’s body to work really close to where the illness is.

We now have three robots in McLeod Health System, because it’s an important part of the technology base for surgery. Robotic-assisted surgery is available at McLeod Regional Medical Center at the Florence Campus and in Little River at the Seacoast Campus.

At the McLeod Health System, we have performed 1,400 robotic cases. Those numbers are important because it’s a very sophisticated device and the teams are specially trained teams. The combined experience of those teams and the device is where the expertise can develop over time and where the outcomes can improve.

Robotic surgery is currently available in thoracic surgery (disorders of the chest) and any of the diseases of the abdomen, which could include gynecological issues, such as the uterus and ovaries. Any of the organs in the abdomen — colon, stomach, gallbladder and parts of the liver. The robot can also be used in urology, particularly to operate on the prostate, kidney and other structures of that system.

When the surgeon controls the robot, they’re able to use very small incisions. That’s important because incisions are painful. Incisions and large operations will cause disability, change the normal tissue and affect the recovery. After robotic-assisted surgery, recovery is greatly accelerated. The patient feels better after surgery. Their recovery time is shorter. They can be back to work sooner. And the initial data that is beginning to emerge — probably as a result of being less invasive in the operation by damaging less tissue while getting to the diseased tissue – is that the patient’s outcomes are better.

The robotic-assisted surgery is highly technology driven and a very delicate dance between people and machines. As you’d imagine, success for the patients requires a great amount of training, both for the surgeon with the use of the robot and for the team around the patient that is assisting the surgeon with the operation of the robot.

Find a surgeon near you who uses robotic-assisted surgery.